McNair to Hall: August 31, 1979


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31 August 1979

Dear Don,

Needless to say, I am pleased, delighted in fact, that Fran
McCullough likes my manuscript. I will do my best to be “not too hopeful,”
as you suggest, and I send renewed thanks for your persistence in this thing.
Your confidence in my poetry gives me more strength than you realize,
as I forge ahead through revision after revision.

And of course I am glad you like the two poems—disturbed, too,
about what you feel does not work in each. How do the trees grow o’s, you
ask. I meant to refer in that image to the o’s which telephone linesmen
often cut around telephone wires. Please let me know whether my explanation
makes you feel more comfortable with the image. You have me worried…

Perhaps you are right about the verbless-ness of “Driving Poem.” I
guess I was hoping that the verbs in the which clause would carry the
poem well enough, in spite of the unusual syntax. About your suggestion,
“This is the room…”: Do you think the line would stress the car more
than the driving which the title refers?

I am working hard on two longish poems called “The Thin Man” and
“Hair on Television,” both of which I would like to put into the revised
book. They would go into section one, along with “For My Father” and
“The Bald Spot,” so that the section would give a sort of overview of
the personal and some of the public concerns of the book’s narrator.
Section two would begin with “Old Trees” and would move to the other
regional poems of the present section one—i.e., “Fire in Enfield,”
“Leaving the Country House” and “Memory of Kuhre.” Each of those poems
contains a certain play of present and past—especially the latter—and
so they would lead logically to section three, which would include all
of the poems in the present sections two and three except for the “dirty
poems.” “Driving Poem” would fall just before “Country People,” the other
drivin g [sic] poem of the collection, in section five. The sections woud be
called “The Thin Man”(1); “Memory of Kuhre”(2); “Going Back to Fifth Grade”(3);
“The Faces of … (4); and “Country People”(5).

I hope you find that my revision strengthens the book, and I hope to
be able to show it to you before long. Thanks, as usual, for all of
your help and advice.

Love to both you & Jane,


P.S.: Please explain to Joey that I will be sending him
poems as soon as they are ready –

Read Hearing that My Father Died in a Supermarket (published version of “For My Father” with altered title)

Read The Bald Spot (published version)

Read Fire in Enfield (published version)

Read Leaving the Country House to the Landlord, Five Years Later (published version)

Read Memory of Kuhre (published version)

Read Country People (published version)

Read Going Back to Fifth Grade (published version)

Read The Faces of Americans in 1853 (published version)